Manuel Valle Gets a Death Date as Florida Supreme Court Lifts His Stay of Execution

South Florida cop killer Manuel Valle is scheduled to die on September 6.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled today in an out-of-calendar opinion to lift Valle's stay of execution, which had been ordered after questions arose about Florida's new lethal-injection drug possibly causing cruel and unusual punishment.

Valle was originally scheduled to be executed on August 2, but the case was remanded to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jacqueline Hogan Scola for a hearing on the use of the new drug. She ruled that Valle's defense "failed to present any credible evidence of any risk of needless suffering."

In the Supreme Court's unanimous opinion, it agreed with the lower court's ruling, declaring the new drug constitutional for inmate executions in the state.

At the circuit court hearing, the defense's main witness -- an anesthesiologist -- gave anecdotal evidence about the pain suffered by inmates from other states who have been subject to lethal injections involving pentobarbital, but Scola ruled that without some sort of data, "there is no way to know" exactly how it affects inmates.

Pentobarbital, the new sedative drug, has already been used for executions in several other states, although it hasn't yet been used in a Florida execution.

The drug replaces sodium thiopental, which has been unavailable after the only seller in the country, Hospira, stopped manufacturing it due to concerns about its use in lethal injections.

The Dutch company that manufactures the pentobarbital has been objecting to the state of Florida, and others, for using its product to kill people -- including the company's president writing letters to Gov. Rick Scott asking him not to use his company's product.

The governor's office never responded to the company's request and didn't respond to the Pulp's request for comment either.

Valle, convicted of killing a Coral Gables cop in 1978, has been locked up at the Florida State Prison in Raiford since May 16, 1978, and on death row for just over 30 years now since being sentenced to death on August 4, 1981.

The last execution by the State of Florida was on February 16, 2010, for Martin Grossman, who was convicted in 1984 at the age of 19 of killing a state wildlife officer, and each of the three inmates executed by the state before Valle spent more than 23 years on death row, according to Florida Department of Corrections records.

You can read the Supreme Court's entire ruling here.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley